Local News Articles

School Board Makes More Budget Cuts, Three Proposed New Supplement Positions Eliminated

July 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
Mark Willoughby

The DeKalb County Board of Education revisited its proposed budget for the 2013-14 year Thursday night, making more than the $147,000 in cuts requested by the county budget committee.

Removed from the proposed spending plan are two new assistant soccer coaches, one for the girls and one for the boys program at DCHS and a proposed new cross country coaching supplement. Total savings from those cuts combined comes to $8,355. A proposed new teaching position in the gifted program will be cut to part time. A previously federally funded special education teaching position, to be funded from the general purpose (local school budget) will be cut to part time.

Altogether, cuts were made in varying amounts from a total of thirty six line items in the proposed budget for a total of $148,355, more than meeting the request of the county budget committee. "We took $500 here and $1,000 there in different places, in several different categories, just a little here and a little there to come up with the amount of cuts that was requested," said Director of Schools Mark Willoughby.

While school officials had anticipated having to use up to $1.2 million of school reserves to balance the 2012-13 budget, the school system actually ended up in the black for the year. "We were fortunate this year to end without using any of our reserves. This budget does not request a tax increase to the county. This budget is again tight and we hope we can come out ahead again next year without using any reserves," said Willoughby.

The proposed school budget does not include a property tax increase. The rate for schools would remain at 55 cents per $100 of assessed value. However, the budget proposes to use $1,237,960 of school BEP reserves and fund balance if needed to balance the budget by the end of the 2013-14 fiscal year.

Total school revenues come to $19,314,324 including $14,004,000 in State Basic Education Program funds and $2,362,429 in current property tax funds. Total school expenditures are $20,478,445.

In order to meet requirements of the federal Affordable Health Care Act, the budget includes funds to offer single coverage health insurance to all full time classified employees (support staff) who want it, beginning January 1, 2014. Employees who take the school system up on its offer will have to pay ninety dollars per month. The school system will cover the rest. No additional insurance benefit will be offered to certified personnel.

The proposed budget calls for certified employees to receive a one time bonus instead of a 1.5% pay raise. Director Willoughby said in a previous meeting that approximately $40,000 in state funds will pay for the bonuses which comes to about $160 per employee.

The budget includes funding for two new teacher positions at DeKalb Middle School

One new P.E. teacher at Northside Elementary School

One new extra teacher position (instead of two) which may or may not be needed depending upon enrollment at the elementary school level: (position not to be filled if not needed)

One full time and one part time federal teacher positions moving to general purpose schools (local budget)

Under the Gifted Education Program: One new gifted part time position:

Under Special Education Program: A half time psychologist

Other new positions included in the budget:

Assistant band director (working primarily at DeKalb West School) (supplement)

Two new Middle School Soccer Coaches (supplement)

One baseball coach at DeKalb West School (supplement)

The budget also includes a $4,150 pay raise for the Transportation Supervisor

The county budget committee will meet tonight (Friday) at 6:00 p.m. at the courthouse to act on the proposed school budget.

School Lunch Prices to Increase Again

July 12, 2013
Dwayne Page
Stephanie Dyer (Older Photo)

If you pay for your children's school lunches, you'll have to ante up a little more this coming school year.

The DeKalb County Board of Education Thursday night voted to increase the price of school lunches five cents, going from $1.45 to $1.50 for pre-kindergarten students to fifth graders and from $1.70 to $1.75 for sixth through twelfth graders. Breakfast prices will remain the same at $1.00 for all students. Prices for adults at schools will remain at $2.50

This is the third year in a row the school board has voted to hike school lunch prices.

Stephanie Dyer, School Nutrition Supervisor, has said in previous meetings that prices have to increase until they get to $2.51 under USDA regulations, or the school system risks losing its increase in food reimbursement rates. "Each year we have gone up ten cents. However this year with our funds we're able to just go up five cents and still be in good shape, said Dyer during Thursday night's meeting. "Hopefully we'll stay like this for a couple of years. That's what we're hoping for. They are becoming a little bit more lenient on that," she said.

DeKalb County’s Curtis honored by TTU College of Business

July 11, 2013
Casey Curtis

Casey Curtis, of Smithville, received the Gary Pickett memorial scholarship from Tennessee Tech University’s College of Business.

Curtis is a senior studying business management and a graduate of DeKalb County High School. He was one of more than 100 students to receive a scholarship from the College of Business this spring. The college distributed nearly $143,000 this spring to its top students.

“We are proud of this outstanding group of students,” said James Jordan-Wagner, dean of TTU’s College of Business. “We are also extremely pleased with the support we receive from businesses and alumni in supplying the private funds for scholarships. In these trying times, they have responded by increasing the amount that we could award this year.”

“These awards recognize our students’ achievements and help us to attract quality students to TTU.”

Tiger Pride Camp Teaching Youngsters Basics of Football

July 11, 2013
Dwayne Page
Tiger Pride Camp Teaching Youngsters Basics of Football

Some one hundred youngsters ages five to twelve have been learning more about football during the first ever Tiger Pride Football Camp this week at DeKalb County High School

USA certified football coaches and other volunteers have spent the week teaching kids the basics of the game. "We've been wanting to put one of these together for quite a few years and with John (Kilgore's) help this year and the organization we've got one going and we've had a hundred kids out here each and every day and it's just a great thing to be able to instill that Tiger pride and a little football knowledge in these young guys," said DCHS Football Coach Steve Trapp.

"We've got a lot of our high school guys, a lot of guys who graduated last year and in years past who have come out to help us. They are actually running the drills for us. The Junior Pro coaches are here. Its helping all levels of football here in DeKalb County," said Coach Trapp.

"Football has got popular in the last four or five years," said John Kilgore, who helped organize the camp. "Coach Steve (Trapp) has turned the program around at DCHS and its got more kids interested," he said.

On Thursday, the last day of camp, a scrimmage game will be played for each age group.

Local Church Hosts Work Camp to Make Minor Home Repairs for Those in Need

July 10, 2013
Dwayne Page
Work Camp Volunteers Sealing Driveway of Home on Holmes Creek Road
Smithville Church of Christ Work Camp Volunteers
Rob Willingham and Mike Lewis among those Repairing Deck of home on Kendra Drive
More Work Camp Volunteers
Gena Cripps painting underhang of carport at home on Holmes Creek Road

Members of the Smithville Church of Christ are lending a hand to neighbors in need this week.

Through the church sponsored work camp, volunteers are going out into the community to make minor repairs and upgrades to homes and properties of several low income families. "We've built some handicapped ramps. We've cleaned up a lot of brush and done yard work and things that have just gotten out of hand for people who could not get to it or who didn't have the time, ability or the tools and equipment to do it. We're trying to make a difference in the community," said Tim Woodward, Involvement Minister of the Smithville Church of Christ.

Woodward said this is the church's first project of this kind locally. "It's the first time we've ever done it. The idea was born out of some mission work we had done. We had been to Mexico for eleven years doing some construction work on church buildings and then we went to South Carolina for seven years. We went to Tuba City, Arizona to a Navajo Indian Reservation out there and did some work. We always talked on those trips about doing something here locally so we got together the first of the year and came up a plan and sent out some applications. We got some back and word spread that we were doing some projects for people in the city and county that either couldn't afford to do the projects or couldn't do it themselves," he said.

Families served through the work camp are not required to pay for the services. "We had a special contribution at church a couple of months ago. Our goal was to pay for all the necessary supplies and things that we need. There have been some (families) who have said I can afford to pay but I just can't do the work. They have graciously done that and it has allowed our resources to go a little bit further," said Woodward.

The church volunteers hope to complete about twenty five projects this week during the work camp. Woodward said he is hopeful the program will become an annual event. "We've averaged about 45 people out working Monday, Tuesday, and Wednesday. We've had a good turnout. We've got some ladies that cook our lunch and supper for us. We eat and go back at it. We're kind of feeling our way through it but we hope it becomes an annual event. We would like to eventually invite other youth groups to be part of it. Hopefully it will only get bigger and better," said Woodward.

DeKalb County’s Evans honored by TTU College of Business

July 10, 2013
Brady Evans

Brady Evans, of Smithville, received the Avo Anderson Memorial scholarship from Tennessee Tech University’s College of Business.

Evans is a junior studying business management and a graduate of DeKalb County High School. He was one of more than 100 students to receive a scholarship from the College of Business this spring. The college distributed nearly $143,000 this spring to its top students.

“We are proud of this outstanding group of students,” said James Jordan-Wagner, dean of TTU’s College of Business. “We are also extremely pleased with the support we receive from businesses and alumni in supplying the private funds for scholarships. In these trying times, they have responded by increasing the amount that we could award this year.”

“These awards recognize our students’ achievements and help us to attract quality students to TTU.”

County Budget Committee Asks School Board to Fund Two SROs

July 10, 2013
Dwayne Page

The budget committee wants the school board to partner with the county commission in funding four new school resource officers.

During Tuesday night's meeting, members of the budget committee voted 4 to 1 to include funding for two new SROs in the proposed county general budget, but only if the school board will vote to fund two in its budget.

The Board of Education will meet Thursday night in regular session to discuss the proposed new school budget.

Director of Schools Mark Willoughby, who had previously said the school system might find funding for one new SRO position through the Safe Schools Grant and other sources, now says the county shouldn't count on it, given cuts the budget committee has asked the school board to make in its proposed budget for 2013-14 "Asking us to cut $147,000, I don't believe there will be a chance for an SRO to be funded. Whatever the school board directs me to put in the budget, I'll put in the budget. I had said I felt pretty comfortable about one SRO. That wasn't in the budget but I said I felt we could do that. But when we were asked to do basically $150,000 worth of cuts, I don't think they (school board) would do an SRO officer and $150,000 in cuts," said Willoughby.

The county's proposed budget for 2013-14 currently includes funding for two new SRO positions. The school system's portion to fund two new SRO's would be $73,839 including salaries and benefits. The county would be responsible for the costs of equipping and training the new officers.

Budget committee member Jack Barton said he favored the county general funding all four new positions to ensure each school has an SRO, especially given the fact that the county will not have to meet all the requirements of the federal affordable health care act this year. Barton made a motion to fund all four new SROs but his motion died for the lack of a second. " I believe I would be looking at it at a very different level, if we were still being held to the standard of what the affordable health care act was asking us to do," said Barton. "But given that we've tried to ask them (school board) to make cuts and given that we're not going to be held to the penalties or the have to's of the affordable health care act, I want to put it out there. (to fund all four new SRO positions)," said Barton.

Committee member Larry Summers then made a motion that the county general fund two new SRO's (salaries and benefits) if the school board does the same with the county to pick up all the expense of training and equipping the new officers with patrol cars, guns, etc. The vote was 4-1. Committee members Wayne Cantrell, Marshall Ferrell, and Jerry Scott joined Summers in voting for the motion. Barton voted against it, since he wants the county general budget to fund all four new SROs.

County Mayor Mike Foster then polled the twelve county commissioners present at the budget committee meeting to see how they felt about funding two SROs if the school board funds two SROs. All but three said they favored it. However when polled about the county general funding all four SROs, a majority of the commissioners said no.

The budget committee approved all budgets Tuesday night with the exception of the school budget until the Board of Education meets Thursday night to take action on its proposed spending plan. The county budget committee will meet again Friday night, July 12 at 6:00 p.m. to act on the school budget.

County Mayor Foster said he wants the county to have a consolidated budget approved by the budget committee no later than July 15.

Two Teens Accused of Stealing School System's Driver's Ed Car

July 9, 2013
Dwayne Page

Two minors are to appear in Juvenile Court this week for allegedly stealing the Drivers Education car, a Chevy Lumina, from the Board of Education bus garage last Wednesday.

Smithville Police said the juveniles allegedly entered the lot, took possession of the vehicle, drove it through the gate, and off the property.

The car and the boys, ages 13 & 14, were found the next day, Thursday July 4 in Cannon County where they showed up at a residence asking for gas, according to Sheriff Patrick Ray

The episode began on Wednesday, July 3 when the boys set out on a four wheeler from a cabin home belonging to one of the boy's parents on Holmes Creek Road. The boys later rode to the school bus garage, allegedly broke in, and then drove off in the car, crashing through the gate. They apparently left behind the four wheeler.

After the boys failed to return, the parents reported them missing. On Thursday, July 4 Woodbury Police received a report that two boys had come to a residence in Woodbury, where they knocked on the door, looking for gas.

Upon discovering the boys were reported missing from DeKalb County, Woodbury Police notified Central Dispatch in DeKalb County. The parents were contacted and picked up the boys.

Juvenile petitions were later taken against the boys for committing a delinquent act in stealing the car.

44 year old Jamie S Bullard was arrested on Thursday, July 4 for aggravated assault, public intoxication, resisting arrest, indecent exposure and vandalism under $500.00. Police were dispatched to Bullard's home Thursday evening for a disturbance. Upon arrival the officer met Bullard who advised someone had destroyed his house. Bullard was found to be intoxicated and belligerent and cursing at the officers. At one point he removed his clothes and threw a rock at one of the officers and threatened to shoot them. After being taken to jail, Bullard allegedly set fire in and flooded the cell. While officers attempted to gain control, Bullard resisted. Bond for Bullard is $17,000 and his court date is July 25.

32 year old Mark D. Young was arrested for DUI on July 7. Young was stopped for a traffic violation and upon contact, the officer smelled a strong odor of an alcoholic beverage on his person and he was unsteady on his feet. Young didn't wish to do field sobriety tasks. Bond for Young is $1500 and his court date is July 25.

Anyone with information on criminal activities is asked to please contact the Smithville Police Department at 597-8210 or the Tip Line at 464-6046.

Any information received that will help Smithville Police solve any criminal offense will be greatly appreciated. All information is confidential.

DeKalb to Get Waste Tire Recycling Grant

July 9, 2013

Tennessee Gov. Bill Haslam and Department of Environment and Conservation Commissioner Bob Martineau today announced 44 grants to help Tennessee communities recycle tires and reduce the number going to landfills. DeKalb County will be getting a grant for $10,500.

The waste tire recycling grants total more than $3.6 million in fiscal year 2014-15, and the grants are supported from the Solid Waste Management Fund, which receives revenue from a pre-disposal fee on the purchase of new tires.

Tennessee recycles an estimated 55,000 tons of tires per year, diverting waste tires from landfills and sending them to beneficial end-use facilities. Beneficial end-use methods include utilizing tire-derived aggregate in civil engineering projects, crumb rubber for asphalt paving and molded rubber products. The majority of Tennessee’s waste tires are used as tire-derived fuel.

“The keys to this program’s success are the efforts of our local county and community partners,” Haslam said. “Reducing the number of tires in landfills and redirecting the tires to a better use helps conserve Tennessee’s natural resources for future generations.”

The General Assembly authorized waste tire grants in the Solid Waste Management Act of 1991. The grants assist counties with the collection, processing and transportation of the tires to beneficial end-use facilities. Counties are reimbursed $1 per eligible tire and are required to provide at least one waste tire collection site. Counties may charge an additional fee if the grant is not adequate to cover costs.

The fund is administered by the Department of Environment and Conservation, and $1.25 from the $1.35 pre-disposal fee collected is used to supplement the counties’ costs for waste tire recycling and services.

Tire-derived fuel, or TDF, conserves fossil fuels and provides a waste-to-energy disposal method. The energy value of TDF exceeds the value of other solid fuels such as coal. According to a study by the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, TDF used in a properly designed and maintained combustion device emits fewer pollutants than conventional fossil fuels. In Tennessee, Abitibi Bowater Corporation, Packaging Corporation of America, Cemex Cement, Buzzi Unicem USA, and Gerdau Ameristeel are among those utilizing processed waste tires for fuel or as a source of carbon in their manufacturing process.

“The Solid Waste Management Fund continues to provide support to Tennessee communities and it’s important that local county governments continue to focus on waste reduction as part of their overall waste management plan,” added Martineau.

Purchasing longer life tires, rotating and balancing tires every 6,000 miles, and checking air pressure monthly are excellent ways to reduce the number of scrap tires generated in Tennessee and will also save money. For more information on Tennessee’s Waste Tire Program, please visit www.tn.gov/environment/swm/tires. A complete list of the grant awards announced today follows.

Smithville Police Catch Man and Minor Engaged in Sexual Activity

July 9, 2013
Dwayne Page
Bryan Cunningham

Smithville Police have charged a 24 year old man with statutory rape for allegedly engaging in sexual activity with a fifteen year old girl.

Bryan Cunningham is under a $5,000 bond and will be in court July 11.

The incident occurred on Friday, July 5.

Smithville Police said that Lieutenant Matt Holmes and Sergeant Brad Tatrow caught the couple engaging in sexual activity in the woods by the creek on Holmes Creek Road. The officers were patroling the area because it's a known hangout.


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